The Thankful Tree

thankful tree

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As soon as the nights start cooling off here in the desert, we know that the holiday season is right around the corner. Early in October is usually when I will break out the “Thankful Tree.” It’s not actually a tree at all, but a vase with some branches in it. When my boys were little, I came across the idea of having a “Thankful Tree.” It is a place where everyone in the family can write down things they are thankful for, and then hang their thoughts on the tree. Like a kid-friendly version of a gratitude journal. By Thanksgiving, you have a lovely “tree” full of paper leaves of gratitude decorating your home. On Thanksgiving, it is fun to read all the things everyone said they are thankful for. I have saved the leaves from years past in my boxes of fall decor so I can look through what my kids wrote when they were younger. It makes me teary and nostalgic every time!

Here’s all you will need to make your family’s Thankful Tree.

  • a big decorative vase or pitcher–I use the large, white metal pitcher from Ikea
  • several fallen tree branches–mine are usually a good 3-4 feet long to accommodate all of our “leaves”
  • cardstock in fall colors
  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • twine or yarn
  • markers

First, stick the branches in your vase or pitcher. Next, you need to cut out a whole bunch of paper leaves in a variety of colors. This is a great step to have the kids help you with. Punch a hole in each leaf. After you have your leaves, cut pieces of twine about 6 inches long, or big enough to make a loop with. Tie a piece of twine in a loop through each hole. I just keep the leaves in a pile next to the “tree” with a couple of markers. That way whenever they think of it, my kids can go over and add to the tree on their own.

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I feel obligated to admit that the first year I did this, I got out the Cricut machine and die cut all the leaves, carefully pried them off of the plastic mat, and didn’t let my kids help with any of the prep work. I may have also spray-painted the branches gold and micro-managed where the leaves were hung. If you are at all like me, you may have to remind yourself that this type of activity is not about perfection, but about the intention and the process and the feeling of togetherness it brings. Plus, the leaves are more special when they have been cut out by little hands.

I hope you enjoy this activity as much as we do, and that it makes it’s way into your family’s holiday tradition like it has ours!

thankful tree




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